MAGPIE TALE: The Truth About Letha
"Dorene, we need to talk." She always hated it when Clifford said that. His family was always trying to talk things out, and it always ended badly.
Dorene's family never talked about things, preferring to take their secrets to the grave.
"Well, go ahead and tell me. What has that sister of mine done now, Clifford?
Letha Clemons had always been the embarrassment of the family. Always showing up at the wrong time and in the wrong attire and disappearing when she was needed.
She had followed quite a different path than her brother Wade who was now traveling the tent circuit and had a very popular radio broadcast each Sunday and Wednesday nights from WRFW in Toledo.
Wade took Letha's daughter Adele under his wing a couple of years ago, and she was doing quite well with her own children's ministry. But everyone wondered what had happened to Rusty.
"Well, out with it Dorene," told Clifford. "What do you know about Rusty?"
"He's doing just fine. Very fine, actually. Working in Dallas as a husky boy jeans model and the mascot for a vegetable company. He's done quite a few public appearances under the moniker of 'Johnny'. He's the leading husky boy model in the Southwest, though they airbrush his silhouette for the vegetable ads."
"And, of course, he's supporting Letha while she does nothing except honky tonk and loll around in bed until noon," Dorene fumed.
"But it puts a roof over their heads and food on the table."
"More food than Rusty needs. I know he's just having fried chicken and gravy and none of the Wonderbread he needs to build a healthy body. You know it builds strong bodies in eight ways. Eight ways, Clifford!"
"I know, I know....but what can we do, Dorene."
"As usual -- nothing. I told you I didn't want to talk. Talk always leads to nothing but this sort of disappointment."
Just then, Cousin Clara called them in for dinner as she put the needle on for a gorgeous Julie London album and a scrumptious supper.
To no one's surprise, Letha met a horrible fate two years later on her way home at 3 a.m. from the Ebb Tide Lounge in Glendale, California, where she and Rusty had moved as his modeling career had spun off into bit parts on Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best. He would end up under the care of Clifford and Dorene where he would be a National Merit Scholar and culinary master in his "Bachelor Living" classes in high school.
This would lead to him living his dream and opening a small chain of restaurants headquartered in Grand Rapids where he lives to this day with his significant other of 35 years, Sheldon Dreysdale of Dreysdale Dry Cleaning Service.